No. 14 Syracuse takes on No. 14 5 Clemson in a battle of undefeated ACC teams at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC on Saturday.
Game time is scheduled for 12 pm ET, and it will be televised on ABC.
Syracuse (6-0) is arguably the most-surprising unbeaten team of the nine remaining in the FBS. The Orange are doing it with defense for a change with coach Dino Babers with a unit that leads the ACC in points allowed at 13.2 points per game. Garrett Shrader continues to play well at quarterback, and Sean Tucker is one of the best running backs in the FBS.
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Clemson (7-0) continues to answer every challenge in the ACC Atlantic division, and a win here would give them a head-to-head victory against all of the ranked teams in their division. Dabo Swinney has another team that looks ready for a run to the College Football Playoff, and quarterback DJ Uiagalelei continues to improve with each week. The Tigers have won 37 straight home games, too.
This matchup is an underrated piece of the College Football Playoff picture and one of the games that will define the second half of the season. Here is everything you need to know to bet on Syracuse vs. Clemson:
Syracuse vs. Clemson odds
- Spread: Clemson -13.5
- Over/under: 51
- Moneyline: Clemson -425, Syracuse +550 (Caesars Sportsbook)
This line has jumped up a full point from its open; a sign of heavy confidence in Clemson to cover at home. Four of Clemson’s six games against FBS opponents have hit the over. Four of Syracuse’s five games against FBS teams have hit the under.
Three trends to know
—Syracuse is 5-1 ATS the spread this season, and that included a win and cover as an underdog against Louisville in the opener. The Orange have given up more than 20 points in only one game this season.
— Babers is 1-5 S/U against Clemson – the lone victory a 27-24 thriller at Syracuse on Oct. 13, 2017. The Orange are 4-2 ATS against the Tigers under Babers, and that includes covers in each of the last two seasons.
— The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in ACC games this season, and they have covered each of the last three weeks against NC State, Boston College and Florida State. This is just the second ACC home game for the Tigers this season as part of a back-loaded schedule.
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Three things to watch
— ground gains. These are the two best run defenses in the ACC. Syracuse (95.0 ypg.) limited Clemson to 116 yards on 3.1 yards per carry in last year’s game, and that kept the game close. Tucker had 157 rushing yards in last year’s loss, and that helped limit the Tigers to 11 possessions in last year’s game. Clemson (82.7) yards per game is better against the run this year. Five players have at least four tackles for loss, led by defensive lineman Myles Murphy (8.5).
— ‘DJU’ stays hot. Uiagalelei has been fantastic for the Tigers over that four-game stretch in the ACC. He averages 258.3 passing yards with 10 TDs and one interception, but the difference-maker has been the rushing threat. He averages 42.2 rushing yards in that stretch. The Seminoles did a good job of stifling Uiagalelei in the running game last week, and Syracuse also has five players with at least four tackles for loss, led by leading tackler Mikel Jones (5.5).
— Shrader’s efficiency. Shrader has been a huge part of the Orange’s breakout season. He averages 171.1 passing yards per game with 12 TDs and three interceptions, and that comes with a 69.7% completion percentage. Clemson is allowing 255.7 yards per game on a 60.3% percentage. Shrader will have opportunities to test the Tigers’ secondary down the field, and he must take advantage with Ordonde Gadsden II, who leads the Orange with 31 receptions for 507 yards and five TDs.
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Stat that matters
Clemson has seven different receivers with at least 10 catches. That has led to the improved quality of Uiagalelei’s play, and the distribution to Antonio Williams (24 catches, 334 yards, 2 TDs) and Beaux Collins (18, 290 yards, 5 TDs) has helped. This could be a game for more targets for tight end Jake Briningstool (15 catches, 163 yards, 4 TDs). He has scored TDs in each of his last three games. Syracuse faces a challenge knowing that balance factor in Clemson’s offense.
Syracuse vs. Clemson prediction
This is a solid Syracuse team with the confidence of competing with Clemson last season. The Orange will try to control the clock with Tucker, and their defense has to get off the field on third down against a Clemson offense that converts 50.5% of the time. Will Shipley also is an X-factor for the Tigers. He did not get a touch in last year’s game. Shipley scores on a run and a catch, and the Tigers’ defense will close out the Orange in the fourth quarter to preserve yet another home victory.
Final score: Clemson 31, Syracuse 21